How To Tell Your Brand Story

Arek Dvornechcuck
Branding Expert

I'm a strategist and designer based in New York who help brands grow by crafting distinctive brand identities, backed by strategy. Need help with your project?—Get in touch

Brand Story Framework*

  1. Hero
  2. Challenge
  3. Guide
  4. Plan
  5. Action
  6. Success

*Learn how to use it for web design.

Learn how to run brand storytelling workshops—check out my 6-step free guide to writing a brand story in 2022.

The 6-Step Brand Story Framework

  1. Hero
  2. Challenge
  3. Guide
  4. Plan
  5. Action
  6. Success

There are 6 steps in total, grouped into 3 parts: Hero, Guide and Action.

This framework will help you create simple and relevant messages that you can repeat over and over, so that you brand yourself in your customer’s mind.

It's essentially a copywriting framework to help you write your brand story and connect with your audience.

A step-by-step guide to writing brand story.

If you read each paragraph closely and put it into practice, then by the end of this guide you’ll become a brand storyteller.

Writing your brand copy can be a daunting task, but when you have a clear process and the right toolkit, it becomes fairly easy.

Brand Story — Free Template.

This methodology can be used for writing brand copy for web design, email campaigns, sales letters and other marketing materials.

Remember: It's important how a brand looks, but it's even more important how it speaks.

PS. I use this framework to help me write copy for my clients, example: Medihuanna.com or Peritidigital.com

Why storytelling is so important

Why even create a brand story?—because story is the most powerful tool in the world to compel a human brain.

Story is a filter that clarifies our message.

Storytelling works for established businesses as well as mom-and-pop kind of operations.

It works in America as well as in other countries and other languages because it's based on universal principles.

What is brand story?
Story is a filter.

Once you understand this simple framework, your will be able to communicate with more clarity.

The problem is that while most designers are good at design, many of them are not so good with words.

However, the fact is that pretty websites don’t sell things, words do.

So if you, as a creative, can't write good copy for a brand, then you're not truly helping your clients succeed.

And let’s face it: writing copy ain't easy—I know, I’ve been there.

As a designer myself, I used to spend countless hours staring at a blank computer screen and wondering what my designs should say.

How to write headings and paragraphs for my branding projects?—The websites and other design work I'm being asked to do.

That lead me to learn everything I could about copywriting, storytelling and in general how to use words to sell, but without being pushy.

And as Jim Signorelli often says:

Jim Signorelli—Story Branding

That’s why I created my structured process and since I started using it for myself and for my clients—It works like magic, every single time.

I'm able to write copy fast and with clarity, which saves me and my clients a lot of time.

Moreover, all of my clients enjoy the process, since they’re engaged from the get go.

During the workshop, my goal is to simply extract the right information—The ideas come from my clients, because they're the experts in their respective fields.

My role is just to facilitate the process and organize their ideas in a way that I can use for my design work.

Thanks to that process, I’m able to create quality websites, great presentations, and ads that people respond to.

Whether you’re a designer working with brands, or an entrepreneur working on your own brand—you can use this proven method to tell your brand story.

How to run a storytelling workshop

The goals of this workshop is to Iteratively scaffold to a solution by listening and considering all the team's ideas.

After the workshop, you will be able to refine it and polish things up—so don't try to be perfect!

How to run a storytelling workshop

If you want to see some examples—they're available with the purchase of my premium version of the Storytelling Guide.

Who writes brand story?

You, the strategic designer, consultant, or facilitator—It can be anyone, as long as you follow the framework.

Where to run the workshop?

I usually rent a conference room at WeWork, or we have a Zoom call.

Who should be in the room?

You can have multiple stakeholders or just one CEO / Founder as participants.

How long does it take?

You should book about 2 hours, which gives you about 20 minutes for each of the 6 steps.

Brand Story Worksheets

Here's the one-page brand story worksheet that consists of 3 main sections and 6-steps in total.

I filled them with dummy text so that you know where the answers go.

Brand Story Worksheets

With this worksheet printed out, you can actually meet your client in basically any quiet environment.

If meeting your client in person is not an option (because of Covid-19 or distance), then you can run this workshop online.

You can also use my fillable PDF templates (available with the premium guide purchase only) or basically you can use any online collaboration tool e.g. Mural or Miro.

Just use this article as your guide and download my worksheet or recreate it on a piece of paper or a whiteboard.

Note for facilitator
You can use this article as your facilitor script — this is how you can run your first workshop (from Intro to Outro).

In this article, I talk to you as if you were my client (everything from Intro to Outro)—in order to maximize its practicality.

This is what you say as a facilitator—just read it out loud, or at least try to remember key questions.

That way you will be able to run your first storytelling sessions with confidence.

Let's get started!

Intro—How story works?

So first, let me give you a quick overview of what we're going to accomplish today.

This framework is the pinnacle of narrative communication, and it is specifically designed to work for brands.

The outcome of this workshop is your story written on 1 page, which is key to crafting your brand message.

Once we have our story created, it will serve us as a copy source for all marketing collaterals.

It can be used to write copy for your website, emails, ads and basically any other piece of brand communication.

Now, we're going to dive into the process in a second, but first I want to and explain how story works.

How Story works — The 6 Step Storytelling Framework by Arek Dvornechuck / Ebaqdesign.

There are 6 elements to a great story and once you understand this simple framework, you will be able to recognize almost everywhere—in  movies or books and of course in branding.

Here's how to tell your brand story in a nutshell:

  1. First, there’s a Hero (your customer) who desires something.
  2. Next, the Hero encounters some challenges on their journey.
  3. Then, the credible, trustworthy Guide steps in (your brand).
  4. The Guide devises a plan to help the Hero win the day.
  5. Then the Hero is called to action & informed about stakes.
  6. Finally, that action ends in success—happy end to a story.

This is a quick overview of what makes a good story in 6 basic steps.

So without further ado, let's start with the first step—The Hero, which is your customer.

Step 1—The Hero

Every story starts with a Hero who desires something (as it relates to your brand).

What does the Hero want and need?

And there might be many things the Hero desires so we need to define their major wants and needs only.

Brand Story Workshop—Step 1: The Hero's Desires.

By defining their wants and needs, we're going to be able to speak directly to their main objectives and goals—

What's the difference between wants and needs?

Wants

Wants are simply tangible and obvious things that your customers want.

Examples of things the Hero might want:

  • "To buy a sports bike."
  • "To sign up for boxing."
  • "To launch an online store."

Or whatever else you offer—your products and services.

Once you’ve listed a couple of things your customers want, then you need to think about the underlying needs.

Needs

Needs are related to the customer’s sense of survival.

People will always choose a story that helps the survive and thrive.

Examples of things the Hero might need:

  • "To feel respected (status & prestige)."
  • "To feel strong and confident (health & safety)."
  • "To grow their business (increase revenue)."

Survival simply means that we all respond to certain basic human needs.

This basically refers to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

It's all about either accumulating financial resources (making or saving money), conserving time (saving time, opportunity cost), building social networks (connecting with others), gaining status & prestige (looking good in front of peers) and so on.

People usually say that they want some obvious things like a new car or to go on vacation, but what they really need is the prestige that comes with owning that car, or status and happiness that comes with going on holidays.

Let's remember that the goal of branding is let our customers know where we want to take them (precisely).

So here we need to go beyond just their obvious wants, and also talk about the underlying needs that can help them survive or thrive.

Hero’s Desires
What does the hero want as it relates to our brand? List features and benefits. What are the underlying needs that help them thrive? (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).

Once we’ve entered into your customers’ story by defining their 3-5 key desires (wants and needs), then we can start talking about the challenges they face.

Step 2—Challenges

In every story, the Hero has some challenges or is facing some obstacles on their journey.

What are the Hero's key problems or pain-points?

Identifying these challenges will deepen their interest in the story we’re telling.

Brand Story Workshop—Step 2: The Hero's Challenge.

Identifying these challenges helps us open up a story gap.

Every story is about a Hero facing some challenges and the more we talk about that, the more interest they have in our brand.

Listing these challenges will make the Hero feel understood, it will make them stop and listen.

And as a great storyteller Miri Rodriguez often says:

Miri Rodriguez—Brand Storytelling

There are two basic kinds of challenges we can identify in every story: external and internal challenges.

External challenges

External challenges are the obvious, tangible problems that the Hero has to deal with. (facts)

Examples of things the Hero might have to deal with:

  • "Pushy sports bike dealers."
  • "Busy gyms, lack of good trainers."
  • "Unreliable web designers."

Now, when we feature a resolution to the external challenge, we're usually doing pretty good.

However, when we feature a resolution to the internal challenge, that’s what customers really pay attention to.

Internal challenges

Internal challenges are all about how these external challenges make the Hero feel internally? (emotions)

Examples of things the Hero might struggle internally with:

  • "Frustrated by intrusive dealers & their sales techniques."
  • "Intimidated by taking private classes with instructors."
  • "Dissatisfied with designers that can't deliver quality work."

The reason why customers buy things or services is because the external challenges they face is frustrating them in some way internally.

This usually involves some kind of embarrassment, self-doubt, intimidation, confusion or basically any type of negative feelings.

Hero’s Challenge
What is the obvious, tangible problem that the hero must overcome in order to get what they want? How does this problem make the hero feel internally? (emotions).

Once we've listed 3 to 5 challenges that the Hero faces, next we can start talking about the Guide, which is your brand.

Step 3—Guide

The Hero is always looking for a credible guide, because they know they can’t solve these challenges on their own (otherwise they wouldn't care about your products/services).

How to instill credibility in the Guide?

The guide must look credible, so that the Hero can trust him with his hard-earned money.

Brand Story Workshop—Step 3: The Guide's Credibility.

What credibility does is that it evokes trust in your brand's ability to help the Hero overcome their challenges and get what they desire.

Heroes will only trust the Guide who understand them and has something (skills or products) that can help them the win.

If the stories are crafted in the right way, that will make your brand like a no-brainer choice for the Hero.

And as a great storyteller Kindra Hall says:

Kindra Hall—Stories That Stick

In order to position your brand as that credible guide, we must communicate two things: Empathy and Authority.

Empathy

Empathy simply means that you must express an understanding of the pains and frustrations that the Hero experiences.

Why?—Because when we clearly empathize with our customers’ dilemma, we can create a bond of trust.

Examples of empathetic statements could look like:

  • "We understand how it feels having to deal with pushy dealers."
  • "Nobody should feel intimidated by taking private boxing classes."
  • "Like you, we're frustrated by web designers who overpromise and underdeliver."

Expressing empathy isn’t really difficult—let's just look at the challenges and then think about ways we can communicate that we understand the Hero.

Authority

Authority is all about conveying your competence—the Hero must know that you're a capable Guide and you have a proven track record.

The Hero will trust only somebody who knows what they’re doing.

That's why the Guide must demonstrate serious experience in helping others with similar challenges.

In this part we can use things like testimonials, awards, certifications, or logos of brands you've worked with.

Examples of authority statements might include:

  • "We have the biggest inventory of sports bikes in NY...."
  • "Our trainers worked with 100’s of customers at all levels..."
  • "Our certified Shopify experts designed stores for X and Y..."

Our goal is to simply let the customers know that that we've helped others overcome similar challenges and they've got now whatever they desired.

This is because they constantly ask themselves “Can I trust this brand?” or have similar objections.

Guide’s Credibility
How can we empathize with the Hero? Start with: “We understand...”, “Like you...”. How can we project trust in our brand? Show awards, certificates, testimonials.

Once we've instilled credibility in the Guide, then in every story the Guide also gives the Hero a plan.

Step 4—Plan

The Guide must devise a clear and simple plan for the Hero—the steps to take in order to buy our products or services.

How to create a plan for the Hero to win?

Basically, when customers place an order or engage with a new brand and spend their hard earned money—they take a risk.

Brand Story Workshop—Step 4: The Guide's Plan.

That's why we need to ease their concerns by showing them exactly what to do step-by-step.

A clear plan will give them clarity and assurance and will also remove that sense of risk.

There are two types of plans: Process and Agreement plan.

Process plan

The process plan simply describes the steps your customer needs to take in order to buy and enjoy your product or service.

An example of the process plan can look something like:

  • "Find the nearest gym."
  • "Book a free training."
  • "Enjoy customized workout."

Let's remember that the process plan is just about taking the confusion out of your customer’s journey, not about explaining every single step of the journey.

This is just so the Hero understands: “Oh Okey! I can do that, That's easy” and they click the button "book a class now".

Agreement plan

Agreement plan is basically about coming up with some agreements or guarantees that you can give to your customers.

This will help them overcome their fear of doing business with you, because they're always asking themselves "What if it doesn't work?"

Let's just think through the things they might be concerned about and then counter them some agreements we can make to ease their concerns.

A very basic agreements plan would be something like:

  • "Quality Guaranteed"
  • "100% Customers Satisfaction"
  • "30-day money back guarantee"

However, these are very generic guarantees—ideally it should be something specific to the products or services that you offer.

Guide’s Plan
List 3-5 easy steps that the Hero must take in order to win the day (make it look easy).What kind of agreements we can make to ease their fears or concerns? (Guarantees).

Once we have the plan ready, then we need to call the Hero to take an action—because the Hero won’t take action unless they're challenged to do so.

Step 5—Action

Heroes hardly take action on their own, they usually need be reminded what's at stake, which will motivate them to act.

How to call the Hero to take an action?

We all know that people don't make major life decisions or make bigger purchases or financial commitments, unless we're challenged to do so.

Brand Story Workshop—Step 5: The Action Stakes.

You see, even if people trust you and believe in your product or service, they still might have some last-minute hesitations.

That's why the Hero must be reminded what happens if they do nothing—they need to be challenged by outside forces to take action to avoid these unwanted consequences.

So we have two things here: Calls-to-action and Stakes.

CTAs will directly or indirectly invite people to do business with us, and then Stakes will urge them to take that action.

CTAs

People are being bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every single day.

That’s why we need to make our calls-to-action (CTA) bold and imperative.

And there are two kinds of CTAs: Direct and Transitional.

Direct CTAs as the name suggests directly leads to a sale, or at least is the first step down the path to a sale, for example:

  1. "Buy now"
  2. "Enroll today"
  3. "Contact us"

Let's think about how can we clearly invite our customers to do business with us.

Transitional CTAs contain less risk and they usually offer customers something for free (trial or sample).

The goals here is not a direct sale, but rather collecting their emails or phone numbers to follow up with them later on—whenever they're ready to buy from us.

Transitional call-to-action example.

We can invite people to watch a webinar or download a valuable PDF, but if we can offer a sample or trial—that’s even better, for example:

  • “Book a test ride”
  • “Schedule a free class”
  • “Watch Shopify webinar”

By providing them with a "sample" or a "test ride" or something valuable to them will help us build further our credibility and it will create reciprocity that hopefully leads to a sale in the future.

Ok, so once we’ve called our hero to action—then we also must define what’s at stake.

Stakes

Reminding the Hero about what's at stake is important, because heroes usually don't take any action, if there’s nothing to lose or gain.

Did you know that people are three times more motivated to take an action in order to avoid pain rather than to gain pleasure?

That why we need to clearly let the audience know what not good, terrible or awful things might happen.

Examples of potential loses or pitfalls:

  • "Stop loosing your mind on morning commute to work."
  • "How long can you afford putting off your own health?"
  • "Don't get bogged down in endless website revisions."

Our goal here is to paint a picture of failure in order to create a sense of urgency—that will motivate the Hero to act.

Action Stakes
How can we call the Hero to action (direct and transitional). What does the failure look like? What not good, terrible things can happen if there’s no action. What’s the cost of failure?

Once we've called the Hero to action and communicated what's at stake, then the last thing in our storytelling process is to tell them what success looks like.

Step 6—Success

Every story lives and dies based on the question: “Will the Hero fail or will they succeed?—Since they're already aware of what's at stake (failure), now we need to describe success.

How does success look like to Hero? (happy-end)

Let's not assume that people will understand how your brand can change their lives—we need to tell them precisely.

Brand Story Workshop—Step 6: The Action's Success.

We need to define a compelling image of achievable future in order to captivate their imagination—What’s the happy ending to this story?

We want to paint a bright picture of where we can take your customers, because every Hero wants to be taken somewhere.

Let's keep in mind that the ending should be specific and clear, so we can refer to their desires & challenges in order to define success.

As Bernadette Jiwa says:

Bernadette Jiwa, Meaningful

Everybody wants a change, people desire transformation—What's the difference we're making in their lives?

We're helping the Hero to be either wiser, or perhaps more equipped,  feel accepted or to be more at peace.

Success

We need to define who does the Hero want to become as it relates to our products and services.

In other words—what good, awesome, incredible things can happen to the Hero?

Examples of how success can be defined:

  • "Be free & independent, commute in style to work."
  • "Take control of your life, feel strong like a champ."
  • "Become a successful online store owner."

Let's remember that we're doing more than just helping the Hero win, we're helping them transform in some kind of a way!

Action Success
What does the success look like? Let the Hero know where you’re taking them, how awesome their life will look like. Define their aspirational identity. Paint a clear picture of happy-ending.

The best brands are obsessed about the transformation of the Hero.

So once we defined how does the Hero's action ends in a success, then where do we go from there?

Outro—What's next?

Thanks for taking the time to do this workshop.

The next step would be to refine the script so that we can start using these insights on real applications, like your website for example.

Editing or building a new website is probably the most important step you can take to grow your business.

We can also use this script to write copy for all marketing pieces, like your email campaigns, or a sales letter, or basically for any other marketing purpose.

This story written on one page will serve us as a copy source for creating communication pieces for your brand.

Conclusions

Time and time again I see many companies waste a lot of money and time on marketing that simply doesn't work.

Storytelling is NOT about telling your company's story, it's about your customer's story—that's a big difference.

This is because customers generally don't care about your story, they care about their own.

For example: when they land on your website, they always ask themselves a question "What's in it for me?".

Example of a website built by using the brand story framework.

Good storytelling is about positioning your customer as the Hero in your story and your brand as the Guide who helps the Hero win.

When we do that, we're able to connect with customers better and drive more sales.

Some brands do it intuitively, others need to figure it out—and with my simple framework, you can write your story fast and easy.

Just remember: you must put your customer's story above your own.

In summary, my six-step storytelling framework allows you to:

  • Organize your thinking
  • Clarify your message
  • Increase engagement

And best of all, it helps designers create variety of brand communication pieces, the easy way.

No longer will you have to stare at a blank page wondering what to say.

If you follow my process, I guarantee you will get your messaging on point, every single time.

Just remember—it often takes a few tries to come up with something unique yet accurate and memorable, so spend some time after the workshop to refine your brand story.

If you want to fast-track your learning, you can buy my premium guide with video tutorials, case studies and more additional information.

Buy my premium guide

With the purchase of my premium guide, you will get everything you need to run storytelling workshops for your clients:

  • Video tutorials
  • Fillable PDF templates
  • Print-ready worksheets
  • Case studies
  • Facilitator's guide
  • Delivery document
  • Additional resources

Don't ever guess what to say, level up and become a brand storyteller.

Buy my premium Storytelling Guide and clarify your brand story today!

Storytelling Guide—Clarify your brand story.
Storytelling—Clarify your brand story.

If you're a business owner who's looking for an expert, then contact me to schedule your workshop.

Also check out how I to used these insights in my web design process.

Branding Guide

Build a brand your customers will love.

Save money

Best Deals for Creatives

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we receive a commission.
Start a project

Need help with your brand?

Important Announcement
Top bars don’t need to be tiny you know. Check out this one.